BEHIND THE SCENES
June 23th 2022: Presentation of the project at Vrije University
December 2021- May 2022: Master Students of the Vrije University work as interns on the project by analyzing the research findings from the pilot program.
We greatly thank Larissa Aarzen, Yovanna Cabrera, Abril Fernandez and Salomé Ochmanek for their time, creativity and effort!
February - November 2022: The Informal Justice Court is in session again!
At least 50 inmates participate per Informal Justice Court session in Ikoyi,. Many inmates that participate already have legal representation but still indicate great interest in participating in the session. For the inmates with no legal representation, PLIP has been able to assign about 50 more cases to pro bono lawyers, constantly receiing good updates on the progress of their cases.
The expasion to Kiriki Female Prison is scheduled to start in June 2022.
Oktober 2021: New funding for the Informal Justice Court, continuation in Ikoyi Prison and expansion to Kirikiri Female Prison, by Knowledge Fund (Informal Justice Court 2.0: From Experiment to Model by rebalancing power asymmetries)
Evaluation among inmates, lawyers, prison officials and NGOs working in prisons, showed that the pilot was successful and indicated that the need for the program is very high. Moreover, the scalability report showed that scaling is feasible for prisons in Nigeria and worldwide. For an effective scaling in Lagos, the IJC should be integrated into the operational framework of a knowledgeable, experienced and well connected party and aligned with restorative, ADR and criminal justice programs that can benefit the participating pre-trial detainees. Another important condition is the participation and willingness of pro bono lawyers. For scaling on a global level, it is necessary to develop a tutorial manual that can be offered free to prisons and NGOs worldwide to establish an IJC.
The Public Interest Law Partnership (PILP) proposes a project to develop the KMF sponsored experimental project IJC (granted to Stichting Aardschap) into a proven program: _Informal Justice Court 2.0: From Experiment to Model. _The project has four interrelated strands.
The first strand involves scaling the IJC in Ikoyi so it will benefit more pre-trial detainees who have not yet participated (currently more than 2500) and to develop it and research ways to improve the model. The continuation will be carried out by the experienced team that ran the pilot together with prison officials and the leaders among the inmates who have self-organized themselves to run the court. Every two weeks the team will hold an IJC session. An estimated 300 inmates will participate and most will receive pro bono lawyers through our network. The continuation has full support of the prison administration as the pilot was very successful and the PILP is a trusted partner of the prison system. The goal of this first strand is not only to help the inmates (participation in the IJC and assignment of pro bono lawyers) but also to develop their skills and knowledge so the IJC can run independently after 9 months. The multidisciplinary staff will also assess the IJC strengths and points for improvement.
The second strand consists of running a pilot version of the IJC in the only female prison in Lagos: Kirikiri Female. The demand among inmates is likely to be high, up to 85% of the prison population is awaiting trial. Building on the lessons learned in Ikoyi, the extension to this prison will reach some of the most vulnerable in State’s justice system. Gender is also a priority of the Lagos State Government. The pilot will be carried out by the same team that implemented the Ikoyi pilot. The pilot consists of 3 stages (selection, training program, and mock court) that will be held over a period of 1 month. 50 female inmates will participate and be assigned pro bono lawyers through our network. The theatre director will work out a script designed for inmates to make their own play while the mock court is in session. The goal of this second strand is to help inmates in the pilot program (participation in the IJC and assignment of pro bono lawyers) and use a multidisciplinary approach to research possible gender specific adaptations that may be required.
In the third strand, PILP will work with its government partners to adapt the IJC as a restorative justice model through their existing criminal justice agencies led by the judiciary and ministry of justice. The Lagos State government invests in ADR and restorative solutions to reduce congestion and speed up legal proceedings. The IJC model can function as a mechanism to identity viable cases. Moreover, PILP will promote the IJC through their Clearinghouse operations as an attractive and rewarding model for pro bono lawyers in their network. The goal of this third strand is to increase the effectiveness and sustainability of the IJC, using the insights gathered in the experimental phase and connecting it to existing knowledge within PILP organization about the local criminal justice system.
In the fourth and final strand, the Stichting Aardschap will use its research and artistic expertise to make content (e.g. video, website) that will be used to encourage more pro bono lawyers to participate in the IJC, building on among other things, material we gathered in the pilot stage. Secondly, Stichting Aardschap with PILP and a theatre director will develop free online promotional content and instructions about setting-up and running an IJC that can be used to reach other prisons in Nigeria and worldwide as well as NGOs that want to implement an IJC. The goal of this strand is to promote the IJC model and sensitize stakeholders about its potential.
OBJECTION Sustained - A theatre play based on the Informal Justice Court Project
LASU, PILP (Nigeria) and Aardschap Foundation (Netherlands) cordially invite you to the premiere of the theatre play Stolen Time at Freedom Park (Lagos Island) on September 1.
Devised by Tunji Azeez, based on true life experiences of inmates at Ikoyi Correctional Centre- particularly awaiting trial inmates- the play throws up issues around the Nigerian Justice system with a view to making the system more open, accessible and fast.
The play is based on the Informal Justice Court Project that the aforementioned partners have been carrying out since 2018. For this project a moot court has been set up in Ikoyi Correctional Centre, where awaiting trial prisoners prepare their criminal cases with the help of pro bono lawyers and theater makers. In Ikoyi Correctional Centre, the most congested centre in Lagos, 90 percent of the inmates sit in limbo, with no prospect of a speedy trial, with dire consequences for themselves, their families and the prison, which is overcrowded.
The stories of the participating prisoners and the lessons and experiences from the informal justice court project have now been made into a stage play by Prof. Tunji Azeez and his team of top class Nigerian actors such as, Toritseju Ejoh, Segun Adefila, Saheed Azeez, Oriyomi Joseph, Theresa Elerubo, Hamzat Sherifdeen, Mathew Gangbe and Semaco Ajose, the play aims to raise awareness among the general public and policy makers about the issue of unnecessary and prolonged pre-trial detention and stigmatisation of ex-convits in their bid to reintegrate with society .
The program of the afternoon consists of the play production and a discussion about prolonged pretrial detention with invited stakeholders and policy makers.
The program starts at 4 PM, doors open at 3:30 PM
Freedom Park is located at Old Prison Ground, Broad Street, Lagos.
Tickets are free upon showing this flyer at the entrance of Freedom Park.
Our sincere appreciation goes to the management of Freedom Park for allowing us to stage this play bro bono at this historical site in Nigeria’s history.
We would be honoured to welcome you!
April 2021 Lagos - From March 29 30, 31 till April 1, we conducted the training program in Ikoyi (Stage 2). The 45 attending inmates learned about criminal and restorative law, the functioning of the formal court and were educated about the working of the Informal Justice Court. A tent was set-up on the football pitch so we would have our own place for the court. Several distinguished guests were invited to share their perspectives and to give them advice.
On March 31 we welcomed a Magistrate Court Judge and Professor of Law of University of Lagos. On April 1 a Prosecutor with the Office of Public Prosecution and the head and staff members of Community Service Department of Lagos State attended the training program. They witnessed how the inmates conducted the informal justice court, gave presentations about their work and answered questions of the inmates, which often lead to a lively debate.
After the inmates did the training program, the informal justice court was in session for two weeks (April 6 till April 14). We done the cases of 18 inmates during these days, cases ranging from attempted murder to fraud and stealing.
An informal court session consisted of three parts. First, the defendant (the inmate) explained in his own words what had happened, his background and the status of his case. Based on his case, the roles were assigned.
In the second part, the court session was run through, using a model version of the Nigerian Magistrate and High court proceedings. The inmates played the roles of judge, prosecutor, witness, clerk and police officer. The pro bono lawyers helped the inmates and give advice, at some moments they took over as prosecutor or defense lawyer to explain certain elements to the inmates. In the third part, the audience (inmates) was asked to reflect on the case and the lawyers were given the opportunity to share their opinions given their experiences in similar cases. A case in the Informal Justice Court typically took around 1.5 hours.
After the conclusion of Stage 3, we organised a **conference **at Alliance Française to share our first insights. During a program at the Alliance Française on April 15th, the these findings were presented alongside a theater performance about the project (a peak preview of the Stage 4 theater play), followed by a round table discussion on implementing alternatives to pretrial detention with distinguished panelists and the presentation of the annual Pro Bono awards.
After April 14, the inmates themselves assigned their leadership and continue the informal court sessions. Every Wednesday the informal court is in session in Ikoyi prison, where the inmates are assisted by legal experts and pro bono lawyer.
The last phase of the project will be dedicated to the theater play (Stage 4). The theater team will write the theater play, rehearse the play and prepare the performance of the play. The expected performance in Ikoyi will be on August 31st 2021.